Paul McCartney Wants ‘Yesterday’ Back, Sues Sony

Beatle Paul McCartney just sued Sony/ATV in federal court in New York to get his songs back to where they once belonged. The Beatles songs were sold to Michael Jackson in 1985 and then to Sony, but U.S. laws have changed since that happened. That could mean “Ticket to Ride” and “Hey Jude” revert to Sir Paul in 2018. But the band Duran Duran is having some trouble in the U.K. invoking the same rule, so Mr. McCartney filed a lawsuit hoping to make it clear he gets the tunes back.

When Lennon and McCartney sold their copyrights to Sony, some might not have imagined that Beatles music would still be popular – much less still under copyright – by the second decade of the next millennium,” said lawyer Steve Mitby, a partner in the Houston law firm Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA.

In the 1998 copyright extension, Congress tried to give the original artists and authors the benefit of the longer 95-year term. But it is far from clear that Congress can modify private contracts – like those between the Beatles and Sony – through that retroactive legislation, Mr. Mitby said.

Mr. McCartney followed the congressional rules to reclaim his music and served advance notice to the U.S. Copyright Office starting back in 2008 that he was coming for “She Loves You” and more. And no, he won’t just let it be.

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